Paula Deen's Diabetes Reveal Sparks a None-Too-Sweet Reaction

Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:59pm EST

Television cook Paula Deen has cooked up some trouble for herself with her revelation this week that she has diabetes.

Deen -- known for her high-calorie takes on Southern cuisine -- has drawn the wrath of fans and colleagues alike with her admission that she has Type 2 diabetes. Many are infuriated that Deen withheld her condition while shilling gut-expanding recipes to the public. And they are accusing her of exploiting her condition by revealing it on the same day she began promoting a diabetes treatment as a paid spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company.

Deen's revelation that she suffers from diabetes -- a condition she's had for three years, by her own admission -- on Tuesday's "Today" show likely didn't surprise many people. The Georgia-born Food Network personality's recipes typically consist of two-thirds butter, half-sugar and perhaps a sprinkle of lard.

However, the fact that her announcement came on the same day as she began promoting the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, manufacturers of the diabetes medication Victoza, has inspired outrage in many.

Also adding fuel to accusations of exploitation: The fact that Deen's son, Bobby Deen, launched a new series, "Not My Mama's Meals" -- on which he offers more health-conscious variations on Paula's recipes -- on Cooking Channel earlier this month.

(Bobby and Deen's other son, Jamie, are also serving as spokespersons for Deen's campaign -- dubbed "Diabetes in a New Light" -- for Novo Nordisk.)

Deen told the New York Times that she held off on the announcement because “I wanted to wait until I had something to bring to the table,” but that excuse doesn't appear to be holding sugar-water for many.

Also read: Paula Deen's Diabetes Solution: "Lighter" Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

Anthony Bourdain, chef and host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," was quick to call Deen out.

"Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later," Bourdain hissed in a barely-veiled tweet.

The hoi-polloi weren't too kind either. While some fans offered their support for the cook on Deen's Facebook page, there was no shortage of detractors.

"Shame on you Paula!" one commenter fumed. "[Y]ou waited three years to divulge your illness while still promoting your health deteriorating ways. Your son then gets his own 'healthy cooking gig' and THEN you reveal you are diabetic signing a contract for millions! ETHICS, SCRUPLES, and TRUE LOVE FOR YOUR FOLLOWERS is something you DO LACK!"

The commenter's screed ends, "GREEDY and YOU ARE THE DEVIL PAULA!!!!!!!"

Another critic seethes on Deen's Facebook page, "[Y]ou have lied to the public for the past three years -- during this time you opened two buffets in Harrah's casinos, written books and had your TV show! ... You are/were a PUBLIC FIGURE and lied to your public by not coming out an saying you were diabetic! oh, but I guess you would have lost the buffets at the casinos which I know rack in $$$."

Yet one more commenter -- this one claiming to have a diabetic child -- called Deen's supporters naive.

"Y'ALL you are fools for making excuses for this disgusting woman's greed," the woman writes. "My son has been a Type 1 diabetic since he was 26 months old and believe me it has been no walk in the park ... Ms. Paula Deen is a dangerous selfish woman who knew what she was doing when she hid her diagnosis from everyone including the Food Network."

A representative for Deen has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment. The Food Network, which carries three Deen-hosted shows, including "Paula's Home Cooking," told TheWrap in a comment, "Our only concern is for Paula’s health. We will continue to support Paula as she confronts this new challenge, taking her lead on what future episodes will offer her fans."

On Twitter, commenters tended to point out the predictability of Deen's diagnosis, given the fatty nature of her culinary palette.

"Now that Paula Deen has diabetes, can she eat her own food?" one member of the Twitterati mused.

Another tweeter threw her allegiances with Team Bourdain: "#Bourdain is right... Paula Deen's recipes are disgusting & loaded with fat & butter. It's sad she hid this from her fans."

Deen does have one potentially powerful ally in her public-relations battle. The American Diabetes Association has given the thumbs-up to Deen's new role as the face of diabetes.

“People may benefit from seeing how others successfully manage type 2 diabetes. Paula Deen, through her work with Diabetes in a New Light™, is likely to inspire many people living with type 2 diabetes to take a more positive approach to their diabetes care,” Geralyn Spollett, MSN, ANP-CS, CDE, president, Health Care & Education of the American Diabetes Association, said in a statement provided to TheWrap.

But with the tidal wave of criticism that Deen has received this week, too much sugar might be the least of her worries -- the egg on her face might constitute a bigger problem.

Related Articles:  Paula Deen's Diabetes Solution: 'Lighter' Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

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